Malumbres-Olarte, J., Crespo, L.C., Domènech, M., Cardoso, P., Moya-Laraño, J., Ribera, C. & Arnedo, M.A. (2020) How Iberian are we? Mediterranean climate determines structure and endemicity of spider communities in Iberian oak forests.Biodiversity and Conservation, 29, 3973-3996. DOI:10.1007/s10531-020-02058-7 (IF2020 3,549; Q1 Biodiversity Conservation)
Understanding the causes behind species richness and endemicity is fundamental to explain biodiversity and assist conservation management, especially in biodiversity hotspots like the Mediterranean Basin. Here we investigate the patterns in Iberian forest spider communities and the processes behind their assembly, by testing hypotheses about the effects of climate and habitat on species richness, endemicity and structure of communities at different spatial scales, and about how microhabitat and dispersal affect the level of endemicity of species. We studied 16 spider communities in Iberian Quercus forests from different climatic zones, applying a standardised sampling protocol. We examined the contribution of habitat, climate, and geography to the differences in the composition of spider communities across spatial scales using distance-based redundancy analysis models (dbRDA) and principal coordinates of neighbour matrices (PCNM). We assessed the effects of the same variables on the endemicity of communities (measured by a weighted index), and tested the correlation between the microhabitat and the ballooning frequency (obtained from bibliography), and the endemicity of species through generalised linear models. Spider communities formed two groups—one southern and one northern—based on similarity in species composition. Precipitation and temperature were inversely related with the number of species while geography and forest type explained the compositional similarities between communities at different spatial scales. Endemicity of communities increased with temperature and decreased with precipitation, whereas species endemicity decreased with ballooning frequency. Our findings illustrate how niche-related processes may drive spider diversity while dispersal determines species distribution and identity and, ultimately, community composition. From a conservation viewpoint, when maximising species richness is incompatible with prioritising endemicity, the criteria to follow may depend on the geographic scale at which decisions are made.